The entire staff at What's Up Dog? understands the importance of doing things right, from puppy acclimation to competition obedience, and selecting the right food or even toys for your dog.  What's Up Dog? is the only choice for professional dog training - food and nutritional products - serving Niceville, Destin, Santa Rosa Beach, Panama City Beach.  Put our experience to work for you!

We have dog training programs to fit nearly any need.  Our professional trainers work several disciplines including Basic and Advanced Dog Obedience, Tracking, Trailing, Scent/Odor Detection (including Diabetes Alert), IPO/Schutzhund, Personal Protection Dogs, and Police K9.  Staff Trainers are certified from Military and Law Enforcement Training Facilities.  Our training facility is located in Santa Rosa Beach, Florida with 6300 SqFt of indoor space plus outdoor areas.  


Steve with his Dutch Shepherd Rik von Herder Haus, IPO2, NDD, PDD

Steve with his Dutch Shepherd Rik von Herder Haus, IPO2, NDD, PDD

Steve Kotowske

Steve has a diverse background with unique talents that were all building blocks to his expertise in the dog raising, training field.  As a child, his family bred German Shepherd Dogs for Police K9 placement in St. Petersburg, FL.  They placed several dogs into working roles and show homes.  Steve was a professional chef for nearly 17-years which served as a platform to learn about food and nutrition.   After a career change and the opportunity to own a successful kitchen design company for a number of years, Steve decided to take his passion for dogs to a new level.  It was at that time he moved from hobbyist to professional - he first opened Von Herder Haus Kennels, Sniff Check Advanced Canine Detection, and eventually the What's Up Dog? Obedience training center.

Steve is a Certified Obedience Trainer, Instructor.   He has also completed and certified in Narcotics Detector Dog Trainer Course and Patrol Detector Dog Handler Course while attending the training academy at American K9 Interdiction in Carrsville, VA  - one of the top facilities in the US for supplying Military Working Dogs to the DOD and the UK, as well as Police K9's throughout the US.

Along with his breeding and showing of top West German Show Line German Shepherd Dogs in the German SV arena, Steve is also a working dog trainer and breeder.  He also raises and trains Dutch Shepherds for placement as Personal Protection Dogs and Police K9 Working Dogs.  He is a member of the German Shepherd Dog Club of America - Working Dog Association and as such gets the opportunity to compete at a high level against his peers.  His work in Schutzhund/IPO, and Police K9 Training have earned him honors of training alongside Police K9 teams in Narcotics Detection, Tracking and All Phases of Protection.  This type of specialized training translates well when clients are just looking for well behaved dogs or a Personal Protection Dog that must perform in the real world.

Beyond training Police K9 and Protection Dogs, 
Steve is the local expert on canine nutrition, and has led nutrition seminars for members of the United States Police Canine Association.  Service Dog training came into play following detection work - the same principles used for learning to distinguish a particular scent in narcotics is applied to the Diabetes Alert Dog which is where the passion started.  Training Competitive Level Obedience coupled with skills for living in the real world of the client like a Personal Protection Dog, all put together with doing specific tasks like Mobility Assist, Fetching, Opening Doors, Turning on Lights, etc... were a natural fit for Steve's passion to help people.  He has partnered with Healing Paws for Warriors, Inc. to not only help source dogs, but to serve as Training Director and provide solid, well trained, Service Dogs to American Veterans.

Steve is a family guy and has a wife, 3 sons, and a daughter.   At home he has German Shepherd Dog, a Tiny Toy Poodle and a Maltese, plus a Tuxedo Cat named Buddy.  He has lived in the area for over 20 years.  He is as close to a native as you're likely to find, and he takes pride in community service.

Chad Biernacki



Chad comes to What's Up Dog? by way of the Walton County Sheriff's Office where he served as a Sheriff's Deputy and Certified K9 Handler.  After attending college at FSU and earning his Bachelors of Science in Criminology, Chad served for nearly 12-years in Law Enforcement.  Chad, and his dog, Nero, won several prestigious awards for narcotics detection while serving our community.  His impressive work ethic, his lively personality, and his quick wit landed him a spot as a regular on Live PD by A&E.  You should watch some episodes with him and see exactly why we like him so much.

We are fortunate to have him as a member of our team.  Chad is our Lead Trainer / Handler for 2 of our divisions: Sniff Check Advanced Canine Detection (Home and Business Narcotics Detection) and Armored K9 (Police K9 and Personal Protection Dog training and sales).  His real life Law Enforcement experience give him an advantage that sets him apart from the pack of trainers that have never been in a real life or death situation.  He sets high expectations, and teaches people and dogs how to meet them.  He only wants the best out of the dogs, and he holds everyone to the same standards of excellence.

Chad is a kind-hearted, caring person who goes above and beyond.  Follow this link to read a story about Chad's bravery while working as a deputy.  Chad is just as nice as he is tough.  This balance is a great quality to have as a dog trainer, and helps set Chad apart from the everyday "tough guy" trainers.

Being a father is his greatest joy in life.  He has a daughter that he looks forward to spending time with, and doing as much as he can with her on his time off.  If I put in his bio that he even takes time to paint her nails he might get upset, so I won't do that.